Snow Reporter's Blog

01/30/2016 | By Alex Blevins
Sierra X Games Takeover!

This week, top athletes and Sierra family members Maddie Bowman, Jamie Anderson, Kyle Smaine, and Hannah Teeter have taken over Aspen, CO reppin hard for Sierra at the Winter X Games!  Each athlete has brought their own style and flair to their event, making Sierra proud and crushing it in the process!

Maddie Bowman made sure everyone knows her favorite color is gold when she competed in Women’s Ski SuperPipe, making her the second skier in X Games history to win 4 consecutive Gold Medals!  Watch her winning run here.

Jamie Anderson proved once again she is a force to be reckoned with when she took home the silver in the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle!  Jamie’s well known for making her runs look effortless and graceful while adding her own style, and this time was no different.  Watch some highlights from the competition here.

This year was Kyle Smaine’s first time competing in the X Games, and he crushed it placing 9th in the Men’s Ski SuperPipe after suffering from a gnarly crash during practice.  Needless to say, we are super proud of him for powering through his injury and placing 9th at his first ever X Games event!

While the X Games are all about dope events and watching your favorite athletes throw down sick tricks, Hannah Teeter was there to remind us that the beautiful thing about snowsports is how they bring people from different backgrounds together and empower them.  This year Hannah and Jamie both partnered up with riders from the Special Olympics, mentoring them before their Snowboard Dual Slalom Competition.  Hannah and her athlete, Daina Shilts, took home the bronze medal, while Jamie and her athlete, Cody Field, placed 5th!  Scope out this video with Hannah and Daina to get an idea of what the partnership is all about.

 

01/16/2016 | By Alex
Sometimes, You Have to Pay to Play

It doesn’t matter if you’re a skier or snowboarder, beginner or expert, we can all agree on one thing: getting injured sucks.  The worst part is, it always seems to happen doing something exponentially uncool.  For instance, I was walking into work one icy December morning when I slipped on a patch of ice and took a hard spill.  By ‘hard spill’ I mean I heard my ankle snap when I fell (shiver).  Laying on the ground, all I could think was two things: 1. I definitely just broke my ankle and 2. My season is over.  I woke up every four hours in the hospital in pain buzzing for the nurse, and all I could see out the window was a solitary street lamp illuminating the snow that was DUMPING...all night. 

Anyone who has seriously injured themselves can tell you it is not only extremely painful physically, but that the emotional and mental challenge is sometimes harder to deal with than the injury itself. The pain of looking at that street lamp made breaking my ankle seem like a walk in the park.  While I was waiting to go into surgery, the GM of Sierra, John Rice, came in to visit me and said, ‘You know Alex, everything happens for a reason, and even though you may not be able to see it now, there’s a reason this happened.  I was sitting in the same hospital bed in this same room a few months ago.’

John’s words have helped me get through some of the tougher moments of being injured.  Since John was able to help me gain some perspective on my injury, I thought maybe he would be able to help others in a similar situation do the same.  So, I sat down with him to ask a few questions and get some insight from the man himself.

How did you hurt yourself this summer?

I was at the end of a day of cycling and paddle boarding, going for the trifecta of wakeboarding, and there were no bindings that could fit my feet on the board.  So, I decided to wake skate on a wakeboard, which I’ve done several times.  The problem is there’s no friction on the surface like there is on a wakeboard.  So, I’m riding, I’m having fun, I’m cruising…my back foot slips off the board, my foot’s kind of flapping on the water, and I’m in almost a trick position on one leg.  I made a judgment error, which was instead of letting go and falling in the water, I tried to make a save and I entered the water still holding the rope.  The force of my body position and the fact that I was still pulling the rope caused my legs to go apart underwater.  I felt kind of a shock feeling inside…like an electric shock…but I swam over to the boat and climbed in, had a beer.  Going back in was when I started to realize maybe I had a pulled groin muscle and I started to feel shaken, they thought I was cold but I was in shock.

What did the doctor end up diagnosing as the actual injury?

I suffered what’s called an open-book pelvic fracture, which is a life threatening injury that has about a 50% mortality rate.  I had no idea the severity at the time or I wouldn’t have walked on my hands and knees up to the dock, I would’ve called an ambulance right away.

How did your injury effect your day-to-day life?

Well, I was completely immobilized.  I had feeling in my hands and feet, and my mind was sound, but I couldn’t move my body.  Post surgery I was in a lot of pain, and I couldn’t reach anything or get anything for myself.  I was in ICU for 4 days, the regular hospital for another 9 days.  Came home, and I was in a hospital bed in my living room for another 6 weeks.

Was it hard for you to stay positive? 

I will tell you that my mind went through the whole range of emotions and feelings.  I had to go through denial; what just happened, why am I here in this hospital bed, what were all the things I could’ve done to prevent this?  Then you get to acceptance, and each day you have to just say, I’m alive, I’m ok, I have to get an inch today.  I can’t get a mile but I’m going to go for an inch.

The mental thing that happened, I kind of got into a spiral, I was looking online and reading and hearing about how people never recover from this, so that was really hard.  My son came in and asked me what I was so down about, and then he told me, ‘When we were kids you would never let us go there mentally, you always kept us positive and said this happened for a reason and to learn from it and grow from it.’  So he was kind of giving me a little dose of my own medicine.  Then the doctor came in, and he told me I’ll be able to do all of my favorite activities again.  To me that was a ray of hope; it came from my own family, my son, then it came from my doctor, a medical validation that it’s not just hope. 

What happened on the spiritual side was bizarre; a reverend visiting the patient next to me steps into my room and asks if he can sit down and pray with me and I said, ‘Sure.’ He gave me his card and about 3 weeks later I sent him an email and I let him know he came at a time when I was really down mentally, and I really appreciate that.  He writes me back, and he said he heard the Lord say he’s not through with me, that my life is going to be a testimony to many and I will walk again in my own strength. This validated that someone I’ve never met before said, ‘You’ve got a life ahead of you, you’ve got stuff left to do, you’re not done and this isn’t the end.’  So physically I was good, my family was awesome, and I realized maybe this happened for a reason.  I had a great healing team, from my medical providers to my family at home and friends who came to visit.  I knew I wasn’t alone and it gave me the extra motivation I needed to heal. 

What advice would you give to someone who has been injured?

My advice would be to not dwell on the negativity.  Now when I see someone in a wheel chair I have a lot of respect for them and I realized how judgmental I’ve been, for a big part of my life perhaps.  I would say work with what you’ve got; realize that yes, you’re down right now, but you still have your capacities, you can still do a lot of things that most people can’t do, that we’re blessed even at times when we have to slow down and hit the brakes. Know that you’re gonna get better, you’re thinking about it, envisioning it.  I thought about the first run I’m going to take and how it’s going to be so awesome.  The biggest lesson for me was that sometimes it’s better to let go then to try to make the miraculous save.

John playing with his band, The Rice Brothers.

I think it shocked a lot of people to hear that a pillar of the Lake Tahoe community and the Sierra-at-Tahoe family, someone who is strong like John Rice, suffered such a serious injury.  Hopefully hearing about John’s experience and ability to come back and keep leading the Sierra family will help someone in a similar situation mentally heal the way it helped me.

01/09/2016 | By Alex
Share The Sport You Love This Month!

I’ll never forget the day I learned to snowboard.  My friends took me up the Grandview chair and brought me to the top of the mountain, then spent the next two and a half hours (yes, you read that right) watching me fall my way to the bottom.  At one point, I almost shot it straight down Lower Main; at another, a friendly skier gave me a tow for about 10 feet only for me to instantly fall after I let go.  Did I mention that at the end of the day, my friends realized the board I had borrowed was set up for a goofy stance and I ride regular?  My first day on the mountain was a hot mess, to say the least.

In hindsight, I am grateful that my friends had the patience to stay with me all day and help me learn the basics, because I could never spend that much time teaching someone to learn.  When I decided to share my favorite sport with my little sister, I was stoked to find that not only is Sierra the best spot for noobs, but I could pay someone to do my dirty work!  Sierra's SMART TERRAIN® Program gives beginners the opportunity to experience the sport of skiing or snowboarding in an environment best suited for learning and improving skills, along with killer deals on private and group lessons and amazingly patient and talented instructors.  We also have package deals that include gear rentals and a dope demo center so you can avoid learning how to ride a snowboard backwards, like yours truly!

Friday, January 8th, Sierra had the pleasure of participating in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most skiers learning to ski and snowboard at one time.  If you didn’t get a chance to participate, don’t fret!  The entire month of January is Learn to Ski and Ride Month, so bring up a buddy or the little ones and learn a sport you can enjoy for the rest of your life at Sierra-at-Tahoe, the best place in the basin to learn to ski and ride!

 

12/27/2015 | By Alex
Ski Bum New Year's Resolutions

I’m not gonna lie to you guys, I was starting to lose faith in Santa.  The past few years he has given me the silent treatment and ignored all my letters; not only was I starting to think I was on the naughty list (impossible!) but I finally began to understand how my high school boyfriend must have felt…sorry, Travis.  I think we can all agree that this year Santa more than made up for the past few Christmases when he delivered multiple feet of snow to Sierra for all to shred!

Now that the holidays have come and gone, our bellies are full, and we’ve had more than our fair share of face time with the fam, the New Year is rapidly approaching.  Since I'm sure you've been busy shredding pow, I’ve got you covered with a list of resolutions that every ski bum can relate to and easily fit between (or during) shredding freshies and that kegger around the corner this weekend.  You’re welcome (:

1. Prepare Those Weakling Legs For More Pow!

Oh man, if only I had a dollar for every nay sayer who told me they would “believe El Niño when they see it”.  Well fam I think it’s safe to say we’ve all seen what El Niño can do, and I’m sure I’m not the only one whose legs were straight shaking after my first pow-tastic tree run through West Bowl.  The dope little vid above by Teton Gravity Research illustrates a simple leg circuit that’s easy to incorporate into any exercise routine, and best of all, can be completed in your very own living room!

If you’re an overachiever and don’t want to stop at legs, this video is the first of a nine part series that is focused on getting in shape to shred your hardest—check out the low down on the entire series here!

2. Learn How To Fine-Tune Your Gear

Since you’re working on getting yourself shred ready, it only makes sense that your gear should be, too!  After all, your skis/board are what connects you to that beautiful lady we all love, Mother Nature. 

For snowboarders, the type of riding that you’re doing directly affects a lot of factors, especially your bindings.  If you’re riding park, for instance, you probably want the angle of your bindings to be mirrored and have them fairly centered on your board.  If you’re riding powder, you’re going to want your bindings as far back as possible to alleviate pressure on your calves from leaning back.  Backcountry.com has a great video all about fine-tuning your stance as well as an easy 8-step program for tuning your board.  Obviously bindings aren’t adjustable for skiers, so it is extra crucial that you wax them regularly and make sure your edges are as sharp as that tux you wore to your high school prom.  backcountry.com also has an easy 8-step program complete with videos to teach the basics for tuning up your skis.

Sometimes, life gets crazy and there’s not enough time to tune your gear if you’re a weekend warrior.  As usual, your Sierra family’s got your back with a repair shop in the main lodge, a wax tent out by the Easy Rider lift, and an additional wax tent inside of 360˚ at the top of Grandview chair.  You didn’t hear it from me, but they appreciate the occasional tip in the form of a frosty tall boy (to be consumed after work, jeesh)!

3. Learn Something New!

One of my favorite memories/proudest moments is the first tree run I did down to West Bowl.  At the time, I had been really in to riding park, and it was my best friend Ari who pushed me to start branching out in the trees (hehe, pun intended).  I will never forget the way it felt to do an entire solo run making my own path without falling, and how freaking pumped I was to tell Ari about it!  That season I encouraged Ari to ride more park and it was rad watching her progress from being timid to following me down and hitting the same features, while she got to watch me progress in the trees.  

Set a goal you would like to add to your bag of tricks and use your buds to help you accomplish it! Buttering, riding switch, tree riding, jibbing in the park—anything your pretty little heart desires!  I do this for myself every season, because it feels awesome to look back each year and know that I have progressed some measurable way.  Heck, if you’re new to the sport and El Niño keeps delivering, this season it can be a simple as learning how to shred that fresh pow, bruh!

12/13/2015 | By Alex
Fresh Snow, Fresher Gear!

Winter is in the air here at Sierra with the last storm dumping 16” of pow and white out conditions as I type! Saturday the temps were perfect and the snow was prime, so we invited our buds from Never Summer Snowboards, Ramp Skis + Snowboards, Hoveland Snowskates, Dakine, and Spy Optics to come kick it in Solstice Plaza so we could fine-tune our Christmas lists.  I rallied the marketing crew to demo some gear and hit the slopes (our job is really tough, guys) and we headed over to West Bowl to test the product and slash some pow!

I rode the Never Summer Aura 150.  This board SLAYED in terms of edge control, I was carving down groomers and loving every minute!  It helped that the board was smaller than what I’m used to riding.  Once I hit some choppier spots the ride became a little bouncy in comparison to my usual stiffer board, which is to be expected.  This board would be amazing in the park or jibbing side hits, a sick combo of fun pop and powerful edges!

Leslie strapped in to the Never Summer Infinity 142.  She loved the amazingly smooth turns, and agreed her board also had excellent edge control, making it a great all-mountain board.  Unlike the Aura I rode, Leslie had to adjust to the stiffness of the Infinity, since she generally rides a board with a little more flex.  Despite the adjustment, Leslie really enjoyed the way this board rode from groomers, to pow, to rollers in the boarder cross park on Upper Snowshoe. 
 
Check out Never Summer Boards HERE 

Thea hopped on some Ramp Skis, Beaver 102s with an all-mountain camber.  She loved the minimal chatter, smooth ride, and edge control.  Not to mention the rad chicks that were working the booth! For Thea’s riding style, she wished the skis had a twin tip, so she could play a little more and ride switch.  These skis would be great in pow and are good all around the mountain. 

Read all about Ramp's premium bamboo ski technology HERE

After we swooped up our rides, Leslie and I strapped on some Bravo Spy goggles.  Guys, I cannot say enough good things about these sweet gogs. Spy has developed a new technology they’ve deemed the “Happy Lens” which blocks out short-wave blue light and UV rays (harmful for eyes) and lets in long-wave blue light, which has been proven to boost mood and alertness.  I was a tad skeptical that a lens could really be THAT different.  As someone who was cursed with poor vision (thanks, mom and dad) I genuinely noticed a difference in clarity and color.  And when you’re riding in one of the most beautiful places on earth, the ability to see color more clearly is a must-have.  Not to mention we were looking G'd up from the feet up!

Read more about Spy's innovative technology and how to get happy HERE

If you’re bummed you didn’t get to demo any gear, quit trippin!  Sunday the 20th we’ll have DC, Hoveland Snowskates, and Never Summer back on Solstice Plaza ready to hook you up with some fresh gear.